Demanding better public education

Students for a Democratic Society ask University President Bob Bruininks’ for answers.

Students for a Democratic Society

The University of Minnesota is a public institution that is founded on the belief that all people are enriched by understanding. It is a place dedicated to providing a learning environment for a diverse community that will benefit the people of the state of Minnesota, the nation and the world.

We the students of the University challenge the policies that, in recent years, have become the status quo at our University.

As students we pay an increasing amount of money every year, only to see our access to quality education cut down. Rising tuition, increased class sizes, less faculty and loss of valued programs are amongst the characteristics of these recent policies.

Because we see ourselves as students, the true owners of our University, we make the following demands of its administrators and policymakers.

We demand that tuition and fee hikes are not part of the 2010-11 budget. Skyrocketing costs have rendered this land-grant institution inaccessible to far too many. Education is a right, not a privilege.

Moreover, the UniversityâÄôs administration finds ways to erect vast new stadiums and upgrade facilities that do not contribute to our education or the mission statement of the University. That money is desperately needed for instructional purposes directly relating to our
education.

We demand an end to the attacks on the cultural centers and organizations that represent the rich diversity of our student body. This means an end to conversations threatening the dissolve or merge student groups on the second floor of Coffman Union. These groups provide specific safe and community spaces to students in an otherwise enormous University. Eliminating the second floor student community spaces is nothing less than an attack on those different student communities and cannot be tolerated. Hands off the second floor!

We demand no layoffs to the valuable instructors and support staff who are the true foundation of studentsâÄô education. Those who work hard every day to give each student access to valuable resources and knowledge are challenged every day by limited funds, larger classes and immense pressure from administrators out of touch with the student body.

We demand a shared power in governance. We want democratic representation in all decision making processes regarding our education, and we want transparency and easy-to-find public documentation of all financial records at the University. We believe that shared governance as it is at the University of Wisconsin is a great example of this and should be instituted at the University of
Minnesota.

Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota ask that President Bob Bruininks answer our list of demands by Oct 29, 2010.

These concerns are the concerns of students at the University as a whole, and we will continue to organize until students, staff and faculty that make this public institution great are given the mutual respect as is stated in the UniversityâÄôs mission statement. The time has come when the student body again will be the priority. Not athletics, but academics. Not corporate interest, but community interest. Not standardization, but education.

 

Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota wrote this column. Please send comments to [email protected].